The recorder is finished
(unless you count the fact that it needs frequent dosing with oil for the next wee while)
Our first job today was cutting the chamfers on the block and windway - this is one of the very skilled tasks as they direct the air around the labium - cut away too much, and the result is breathy. Jacqueline had brought along a stack of instruments including some which are built on the same pattern as the one we were making: we could test the results of work on the head by using a finished middle joint and foot from a previously made instrument. The block also needed its final shaping - it's very slightly concave along its length and could be checked against a straight edge and then filed or sanded to shape. I was thinking over today that even if it is daunting to think of building whole instruments with all the specialised equipment which is needed, a very good way into some of the technical work would be to try making blocks for some of my duff instruments: there's then always the fallback position of putting back the old block again in the event of failure. (and maybe a course in spindle turning, just because the rings and shaping on recorders look so very pretty). There was plenty more peering down the windway with the block in place, looking to see if the block was parallel to the top of the windway, and to the line of the labium. It was fun to hear the instrument's voice at last, though very odd to blow down a recorder head with the beak not yet cut out of it. Earlier on in the block shaping process the sound would be muffled, but interestingly not equally muffled on every note, and as it got better the notes would improve one by one. Once we were happy with the evenness of the sound over the two octaves ( and top F was sounding readily!) it was time to cut the beak to shape. I was anxious about that bit - I have used coping saws now and again, and simply can't make them cut neatly and evenly, plus it seems sacrilegious to hack into the lovely turning and finishing work. The result of that cut was... errr... untidy, so the next bit was filing and sanding, and eventually I got all the saw marks out.
Next came the tuning, so now the middle section and foot which actually belong to the instrument were assembled with the head, and the painstaking work of getting each finger hole big enough and smoothed over began. The two double holes also were filed over to make the dents for ring and little finger. Each note was blown to a tuning meter and adjusted to almost the correct pitch, and once the two double holes had been sorted, the foot needed re-reaming to get the pitch right. a combination of a specially adapted craft knife, a file and sandpaper were used, and all the sharp edges of the holes, inside and out, were smoothed over to give the airflow no chance to become turbulent. We could hear the differences in the sound as the work progressed, and some fun was had playing mad tunes with the out of tune top end of the instrument, a sort of Les Dawson on the recorder thing. We learned that changing the finger hole dimensions also has different effects on pitch in the upper register compared with the lower one - so if one isn't careful, tuning one octave can throw the other one out.
At the end of all that - a recorder, beautiful to look at and better still, sounding lovely - I'm so happy with it, and will now need to get hold of some raw linseed oil and see if I can source citrus oil too - the proportions are nearer to 33% citrus to 67% linseed: the recorder is very thirsty still and will need careful blowing in. I'm looking forward to getting to know it .